Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - April 20, 2018 


The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

Daily Newscasts

Records Show Influx of Outside Money in Michigan Supreme Court Races

PHOTO: A new analysis examines the impact of last-minute campaign spending by special-interest groups on judicial elections in Michigan and other states. Photo credit: Subterranean/Wikimedia.
PHOTO: A new analysis examines the impact of last-minute campaign spending by special-interest groups on judicial elections in Michigan and other states. Photo credit: Subterranean/Wikimedia.
November 4, 2014

LANSING, Mich. - According to a new analysis, Michigan is among a handful of states seeing a recent surge in outside spending in state Supreme Court races by special interest groups.

Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake, says last-minute campaign ads funded by special interests can tip judicial elections, which can force judges to keep pace by courting deep-pocketed partisan groups. He says TV ads in Michigan have been pressuring judges to be "tough on crime," instead of deciding each case on an individual basis.

"What's happening instead is a couple of studies have now come out showing that as the amount of money on TV commercials in a state grows higher and higher, judges are more likely to tilt toward the prosecution in their ruling," says Brandenburg.

According to the analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake, outside political groups have spent more than $2 million on TV ad buys this election in Michigan, Illinois, Montana, North Carolina, and Ohio. Brandenburg adds that as of October 30th, estimated total spending in Michigan's election was close to $4.5 million.

While voters will decide on three of Michigan's seven Supreme Court seats today, Brandenburg says a challenge with judicial elections is voter turnout is typically not very high. He says the barrage of "nasty attack ads" is partly to blame.

"A lot of voters feel starved for information, and as a result they either hang back or might see a commercial and be motivated by it," he says. "I think a lot of voters see these commercials and say, 'That's just not really information, that's just sort of slogans, I still don't have enough information to go vote in a judicial election.'"

Brandenburg says he's talked to many judges who say they feel trapped by the system.

"We ask them to decide cases one at a time based on the facts of the law, and not be swayed by outside political pressure," he says. "You can either ask people to be a judge or you can ask someone to be a politician. You shouldn't have to ask them to be both."

He adds that judicial races are too important to be left to special-interest groups, and he encourages voters to take the time to research nonpartisan voter guides so they can make an informed choice at the polls.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI